Some books are like being kicked in the stomach — an experience you never want to repeat, but at the time, an absolutely inimitable explosion of sensation. And some books are like hearing about someone being kicked in the stomach — a similar explosion of sensation, terror and sympathetic pain, but less visceral. And almost everyone would ask to hear that story again, right? The Kite Runner was a mix of these two. It’s like being kicked in the stomach and it’s like hearing about it; there are parts of the book that I didn’t want to read even as I was reading them, and there are parts that were haunting in other ways, in ways that I would very much like to study, in ways that kept me going and reading.
Much of the book is told with an attempt to be from a child’s point of view, though it starts in an adult’s voice and that sometimes comes back in, which I found disorienting. It’s a strange mix of remembrance and being in the moment.
The book is narrated by Amir, the child of a wealthy man living in Kabul in the early 70s. The family has a pair of servants, Ali and his son Hassan, a boy of the same age as Amir. The early story centers on Amir’s quest for his father’s affection, and there are betrayals of monumental proportions throughout. Behind this all, of course, there’s the backdrop of Afghanistan, about to change forever in the Russian invasion and the Taliban takeover. And things just get more interesting from there.
I liked the way the book kept the politics at the background, because it made everything seem more authentic, like a story written to be a story that happened to be going on in this country at this time, not so much a story tailored to the events in Afghanistan. Which, in retrospect, it was.
I liked it. Didn’t love it, but I liked it.